CORK: is the outer layer of the bark of a species of oak tree which grows in Southern Europe and along the North African coast. It is principally cultivated in Spain and Portugal, those two countries furnish ing the greater part of the world's supply.
The first stripping is taken when the tree is from fifteen to twenty years old, the cork bark being subsequently removed every eight to ten years. The first two "crops" though are of poor quality and are suitable only for coarser commercial purposes. The bark for bottle corks is not obtainable until the third stripping and each coat thereafter is generally better and finer than the one preceding.
The stripping takes place during the months of July and August, the bark being taken off in sections. After removal, it is scraped and cleaned and then flattened by heating and pressing. It is then ready for manufacture or exportation.
For making "corks" for bottles, the cork is cut into strips and the strips into squares about the size of the particular cork desired. The squares are rounded and
shaped by a broad sharp knife—by hand, for no machine has as yet been able to give continuous satisfaction.
In addition to its use for closing bottles, cork lends itself to a variety of other purposes—for life belts and jackets, hat and shoe linings, artificial limbs, archi tectural models, etc. The chips and cuttings are ground up and used in the manufac ture of linoleum, etc. Old corks of all kinds have, consequently, real value and should not be thrown away.
So numerous are the commercial possibilities of cork, that in spite of the large annual production, the supply is never equal to the demand—prices are continually growing higher and substitutes are used wherever practicable.